Driving to work today was like driving through a cloud. Snow is coming down heavy on May Day. Snow late in the spring isn't unprecedented in Denver. There was snow during U2's famous concert at Red Rocks on June 5 in the early 1980s, for example. But, it is notable. Free of the distractions that one sees out the window, one is free to contemplate the many things that Colorado is doing right.
A United Front On Civil Unions.
Honestly, on the morning after Colorado has formed hundreds of new civil unions, with strong public support from our federal Congressional delegation, the Governor, the leaders of both houses of the Colorado General Assembly, City and County of Denver officials, and many local clergy who helped officiate, I feel pretty damn proud to be a Coloradan.
This triumph is part of a larger positive civic culture in Colorado and comes on the heels of years of more incremental but important reforms expanding discrimination law protections and creating tools that same sex couples can use to plan their lives.
We Are Tolerant
I'm proud to live in a state whose housing has become much less segregated by race and ethnicity since I move here. I'm proud to live in a state tolerant enough to elect many openly gay and lesbian elected officials at the state level and an openly gay member of Congress. I'm proud to live in a state that has more woman in public office than all but a handful of other states. I'm proud to live in a state where a man who murders his sexual companion after discovering that this companion has male genitals is prosecuted vigorously instead of apologized for by authorities. I'm proud to live in a state where gay rights groups can sponsor public radio without a fuss, and atheist groups can find someone who will let them put up bill boards.
I'm proud to be in a state that last year repealed obsolete criminal libel laws and this year is repealing the last remnants of laws prohibiting unmarried cohabitation and sex between consenting adults. I am proud to be in a state which has finally repealed all of its blue laws except the ban on selling cars on Sundays (maybe next year). I'm proud that we have a legislature enacting pro-immigrant rather than anti-immigrant measures. I'm proud to be in a state that is disavowing marijuana prohibition and on multiple other fronts, the war on drugs.
We Are Investing In Ourselves
I'm proud to be in a state that is opening new light rail laws, building more and is going to ask voters for more money to fund public K-12 education and is reforming the formula for doing so to be more fair to poor students. I'm proud to live in a state with generally clean air, clean water, and one of the highest shares of renewable source electricity in the nation. I'm proud to be in a state that is embracing Obamacare and its promise of near universal health care, and finding its own ways to make it work well in Colorado, rather than fighting it. I'm proud to live in a state where business leaders recognize that they need to take responsibility to address climate change, environmental contamination, and quality public education options.
We Are Making Government Work Better.
I'm proud to be in a state where many policy reforms proceed on a bipartisan basis, without the undemocratic filibusters, holds, logjams holding up routine appointments, and decision making mostly by secret conference committee deliberations seen in Congress, in a process that perhaps not coincidentally, is less corrupt. I'm proud to live in a state where good ideas can triumph over vested political interests in the legislative and policymaking arena.
I'm proud to be in a state that is adopting election day voter registration and increasing the availability of mail in ballots that will improve voter turnout and effectively expand the franchise.
I am proud to be in a state whose governments have some of the best Internet presences in the nation. I'm proud to be in a state that has reformed obsolete civil service rules, that is increasing governmental liability generally and creating for the first time a no fault compensation regime for people who are incarcerated and then exonerated. I'm proud to be in a state the promptly investigates, and where appropriate sanctions, removes from office, or prosecutes public officials who engage in misconduct personal or professional. I'm proud to be in a state that appoints judges on a merit basis, rather than through elections or purely political appointments.
We Are Pro-Actively Improving Private Law Rules And Regulation
I'm proud to be in a state that is pro-actively identifying problems in the way civil litigation, probate laws, foreclosure litigation, tort litigation and family law litigation work and is coming up with original solutions to those problems without having to wait for federal lawmakers or uniform law commissions or other states to act first.
I'm proud to live in a state where most business and commercial arrangements that must be recorded can be set up online through an easy to use database at a modest cost. I'm proud to live in a state that with only a few important exceptions, had common sense, plain English statutes with sensible rules for a wide variety of private law matters. I'm proud to live in a state that has had the good sense to retain common law marriage.
While I don't always agree with the substance of the reforms (e.g. tighter aesthetic regulation of construction and a camping ban), I applaud Denver for its many efforts to modernize its urban planning with fresh eyes, most recently, with the first comprehensive overhaul of zoning code in half a century. I'm also proud of the steps Denver is taking like building new parks, building new recreation centers and libraries, freeing up large swaths of the city for infill development, improving the viability of using bicycles for transportation, and easing regulation of food trucks to open up new opportunities. I'm glad that a decision restricting new entrants to the taxi market by state regulators has been overturned by our courts.
In sum, while Colorado may not be utopia, we are actively working in the right direction to transform ourselves and our government in a way that most people can agree makes Colorado a better place. So much of America between its two vibrant coasts is content with stagnation and mediocrity. Colorado, in contrast, remains focused on its future. It may not last forever, but at the moment, we are in the groove.